Welcome to the Weekly Fiver, where I’ll pick five recently released songs of varying degrees of quality and thoroughly break them down for you. No two songs will be on the same tier, and they’ll be listed from best to worst. The top song will be an excellent must-hear tune, while the bottom song will be one you ought to stay away from or else you will make your ears sad. It’s all very scientific.
2017 just keeps on throwing wrenches into the mix, as one time Sam Smith imitator Charlie Puth has dropped not just a tolerable radio hit but the best pure pop song of the year. With its spindly Arctic Monkeys guitar line, speaker-shaking bass, and slinky-coil hooks it digs deep into your brain and resides there for the better part of the day. It’s not perfect– Puth’s voice still sounds like a deflating air mattress, and some of his affectations can be a little cloying. (Side note: in addition to all the unnecessary tics, there’s a random sigh towards the end of the song that sounds like he’s about to burst into tears?) All that said, the good parts of the song outweigh the contrivances and result in an ultimately listenable Top 40 hit.
Pretty Decent Song of the Week
Somewhere right now in his avant-garde British home Thom Yorke opens an envelope from his mailbox, taking out a royalty cheque addressed to him from the boys in Grizzly Bear. “Three Rings” is Radiohead to a T, from the swaying tempo to the mournful vocals to the pinwheel arpeggios to the lush soundscape. It could stand to use about thirty seconds of extraneous instrumental bits, but it’s a lot more structured and concise than both the artsy UK crew’s recent output and Grizzly Bear’s own work.
Meh Song of the Week
One Canadian alt-rock icon covers another and…it could have gone better. It’s dry and missing a lot of the key elements that made Big Wreck‘s original so strong. The bridge’s guitar solo is gone, as is the solid percussion. It sounds like a demo Matt Good decided to record on a whim, and other than the novelty there’s not too much to recommend about this cover. More like Matthew Meh amirite.
Below Average Song of the Week
About two-thirds through the song, Adam Granduciel decides that he tried writing a memorable song but it just didn’t pan out, so might as well just jam for the last minute or so. “Pain” sounds like Ryan Adams‘ recent work, only sapped of anything resembling direction. It’s instrumentally florid, and the production has only gotten better since the last album, but it’s so incredibly halfhearted. The opening riff pops up a few times early on…then vanishes. The chorus starts with a strong melodic bar…then turns into something far more loose. It’s literally half a good song buried under gratuitous jamming.
Disappointing Song of the Week
Imagine if 1991 hit “Even Better Than The Real Thing” was an action figure- this song is the sound of U2 taking the toy and wildly twisting its limbs askew into a humanly impossible and awkward looking pose. It’s a horribly mutated interpolation of that song that breaks everything about it.
Clumsy. Everything about this song is clumsy. The phrasing of the titular hook, the key change between verses and choruses, the fact that this is the first official radio single for the new album– all missteps that don’t bode well for the upcoming Songs of Experience. The preceding promo single “Blackout” sounds like a stroke of genius compared to this wet flop of a song.